How cool would it be to be able to control your dreams, to realize that you're dreaming and be able to manipulate the dreamscape?
Lucid dreaming, as it's known, is rare. Many books and websites offer instructions for training yourself to be a lucid dreamer, and it may be possible to learn how. But for the most part lucid dreaming is limited to people born with the ability.
Some scientists are trying to change that, though. They start with the premise that brain waves change during lucid dreaming, and that lucid dreaming also coincides with brain waves in the lower gamma frequency band.
Now, it's not certain whether these brain waves trigger lucid dreaming, or if lucid dreaming causes brain waves to change.
Riding The Waves
So to find out, researchers in Germany gathered 27 young adults, fixed electrodes to their heads, and zapped them with gentle electrical pulses as they slept. The electrical pulses were meant to alter their brain waves in a way that might cause them to have lucid dreams.
And it seemed to work, at least for some of the volunteers. The researchers woke up their subjects during sleep to ask about their dreams, and those who'd received an electrical pulse of around 40Hz reported having lucid dreams.
There's some evidence that inducing lucid dreams could help treat some types of schizophrenia, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. So if further research shows that zapping people with electricity can induce lucid dreaming, the technique may prove to be a powerful therapeutic tool.
"Brain Zap Could Help You Control Your Dreams" (NBC)